Seattle doesn’t have “ramen alleys” like you’ll find in some cities in Japan, but Wallingford will become more of a ramen-centric neighborhood when Midnite Ramen permanently parks its cart at the new Figurehead Brewing location later this winter. In doing so, it will join nearby restaurants serving ramen, namely Yoroshiku, Kozue, and Ooink.
Midnite has been a mainstay of Eater Seattle’s Ramen map for some time now, thanks in part to its onomichi ramen, which includes fish powder for flavor and pork fatback for luscious texture. The cart currently spends three evenings per week at Figurehead Brewing’s existing Magnolia taproom, plus one evening at Obec Brewing, where it often draws more customers than it can comfortably serve.
“We’ve been fortunate to have been loved by many the last three and a half years, but the limitation of the cart is that we can only provide 120 bowls of ramen each day,” says chef Elmer Komagata. “It pains us to see customers having to wait long periods of time, especially in bad weather, but the new location will alleviate that pain.” Komagata, who has operated the cart as a two-person show with his wife Izumi, foresees having a staff of 10 people providing lunch and dinner service seven days per week.
The food cart only has the capacity to boil and steam, and the addition of an open kitchen in the new building will open up new possibilities. Ooshiba’s Sushi and Yakitori will join Midnite Ramen in operating from that kitchen, which will feature a pickup booth for online ordering and a kiosk to self-order items other than ramen. Included will be what Komagata calls “Elmer’s original Osaka street food creations” — his take on treats like gyoza and takoyaki.
“At the end of the day, I want to provide everyone an opportunity to experience food that has been a longtime favorite of many, food that makes you feel at home and give you a sense of comfort, food that can be enjoyed by multiple generations, and food that you’d want to come back to every week,” Komagata says.
Bob Monroe, co-owner of Figurehead Brewing, echoes this vision. In securing the spot, what sold him was an interior courtyard that he plans to turn into a “secret” urban oasis: He and his team just planted a katsura tree in the middle, and they plan to have a wall of live bamboo and other plants to add greenery. While about 60 people can slurp ramen in the taproom, the 35 outdoor seats will be especially popular during good weather.
Figurehead Brewing is expanding the beverage menu at the new location, adding kombucha, sake, and even tea service to complement the food offerings. Monroe looks forward to growing the partnership. “Elmer and Izumi have a very generous spirit which I think comes through in the amazing food they serve,” he says. “I think their focus on comfort food aligns really well with our goal to create that casual atmosphere where people in the neighborhood can come and relax on a regular basis.”
Midnite Ramen and Figurehead Brewery are hoping for a mid-February opening at 3513 Stone Way. Follow the progress at Figurehead Brewing’s Stone Way Instagram page.